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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 December 2006
This is a compilation by Josephine Hart, who has considerable experience of producing West End plays. She was also a Director of Haymarket Gallery and the founder of Gallery Poets. The selection of poets and poems is personal and quirky in the most interesting way, and the book is greatly enhanced by the accompanying CD of readings by distinguished actors, recorded live at the British Library - among them Ralph Fiennes, Juliet Stevenson, Edward Fox, Roger Moore (! - he does Kipling, and he does it very well), Harold Pinter, Sinead Cusack , Bob Geldof (suitably Irish for Yeats but, I think, marginally less good than the others, though his voice has presence and a commanding seriousness about it). As if that were not all, there are short introductory chapters on the poets, and these are really interesting and helpful. It is all a labour of love on behalf of compiler and readers alike and is one of the most unusual and involving anthologies I have ever come across - easily 5 stars.
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on 6 February 2007
There is no excuse in the 21st century for such poor quality recording. With a live reading one expects a certain amount of extraneous noise, but not for audience coughs to be louder than the reader's voice. It sounds like a dodgy pirate copy surreptitiously recorded by someone in the audience with a recorder in his pocket and the misfortune to be seated next to someone with a bad cough!

It's a pity, because it's a good selection of poems with some excellent readers. Wasted opportunity and rather a waste of money.
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on 7 January 2007
Josephine Hart's voice grates horribly. Her pronunciation is odd at times too.(Jan Paul Sartre?)Some people might look better on the radio but others, like Ms Hart, sound better on paper. Her subject matter is well thought out and informative.

But what of the recordings themselves? Most seem to have been recorded in an echoey cellar somewhere with the microphone several yards closer to a man with acute bronchitis than it is to the actor who is reading. It is the audio equivalent of one of those pirate videos that are furtively recorded on camcorder in a middle eastern cinema.

This is a wasted opportunity. A lot of the reading would be good if recorded properly; the poems are timeless classics and should come to life when read aloud but in present form some are a punishment and, overall,this set is not worth the money.
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on 27 November 2015
This recording should be part of the national curriculum!

Josephine Hart puts it out there from the start - she loves poetry!
I must say she has done more for poetry in this recording, and the subsequent recording - Words that Burn - than almost any other person in the 20th Century. Poetry is essentially oral and aural! The writing down of poems is more a necessary evil, or aide memoir, than anything essential.

This recording is for those who are open-minded enough to want to hear great voices reading great poetry. You will feel like you're in the room with these great actors.
If you want great audio quality then there are hundreds of other recordings out there.
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Has greatly increased my appreciation of Poetry The improvement has resulted in learning more about the poets Nd hearing their words. Only reservationi is that the CDs provided give reception inferior to the audio on the iPad App
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on 17 September 2013
To hear the poems being read is memorable. some of the readers give an unexpected mood to some poems. All are worth hearing repeatedly. A collection to be valued.
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on 17 April 2015
If you want a "properly produced" recording of these wonderful poems then this is not for you.

If you want a unique opportunity to hear some wonderful actors/actresses express this wonderful selection of poems in a new manner then this is a bargain. These recordings are rough, in terms of audio quality, but alive! You may find that you have never really heard these poems before... I did.

This one is a keeper!
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on 6 January 2007
I couldn't get it at school or later in life. But this audio book, as well as other events, has really opened my eyes to the joy and value of poetry. I heartily recommend it to the person who perhaps doesn't think poetry is for him or her, but is curious to ascertain what lies behind the mystique and barriers that schools and others seem to, one hopes unwittingly, create. The diction and reading is a pleasure to behold and well worth the small amount of effort and expense involved. I hope Josephine HART and the BBC will produce more of this type of material as I believe poetry has an important role to play in our modern world, as an alternative source of pleasure and reflection on how we live our lives.
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